Summary: Written and published February 2023: Prophecy can be an exciting topic of study, but as with any bible subject it needs to be done in the right way. Christendom has been the author of an overabundance of prophetic theories and ideas, more the product of human imagination and traditions than the thoughts of God from His word. This article will first define for the believer the goal in this study of prophecy and then provide him the key to reaching that goal.
2 Peter 1:16-21(NKJV)
16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
Peter speaks about the prophetic word of God in his second epistle. He prefaces the passage by relating his experience on the mount of “transfiguration” (Matt. 17:1-9) – he was an eyewitness of a presage of the glory that would be given to Jesus by His Father when He returns to this earth to establish His kingdom. The Lord’s words preceding this account in Matthew help us understand the setting/context of the vision which took place:
Matt. 16:27-28 (NKJV)
27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. 28 Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
The “some standing here” would be Peter, James, and John six days later going up the mountain with Jesus (Matt. 17:1). They would see a vision of the Lord’s future glory when He would come in His kingdom. If I may be direct (without having to provide the necessary scriptural proofs), His kingdom is the millennial earthly kingdom which follows His return to this world in His Father’s glory (after the future seven-year tribulation).
In the passage above from Peter’s second epistle he says that his eye-witness testimony of this experience confirms the integrity of the prophetic word – a phrase that refers to the Old Testament prophets and their prophecies. The central event around which all prophetic passages gather is the coming of the Lord and the earthly millennial kingdom of God. His return is the key marker of all prophecy. All prophetic objects, characters, and events can only be properly interpreted when we comprehend their relationship to Jesus Christ and His return – “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10).
Our goal in our study of prophecy is explained by Peter in the last part of the passage – “…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation…” This simply means that all prophetic passages must be linked together forming a complete and comprehensive whole. The picture drawn must be without flaw – no errors, misplacements, or misapprehensions. The reason for this goal of study is that the O.T. prophecies did not actually come from the minds and wills of the O.T. prophets, but like all of Scripture, their words were actually God’s words by the Holy Spirit.
Now the key to reaching this goal is our Lord Jesus Christ. His future return to this world (Rev. 19:11-21) is the marker in prophecy to which all passages are linked. All the time elements we find in prophecies either end with His return (i.e., the 3½ year great tribulation) or begin with it (i.e., the 1000-year millennium). The events and judgments associated with the passages declaring the “Day of the Lord” do not commence until the Lord is physically present (Isa. 2:12, 13:6, 28:5, 34:8, Jer. 46:10, Joel 1:15, 2:1, 2:11, 2:31, 3:14, Amos 5:18, Oba. 1:15, Zech. 14:1, etc.). His return is the turning point of events symbolized or described in other prophecies: He is the stone made without hands that strikes and destroys the great image in the king’s dream (Dan. 2:31-35); He is the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven (Dan. 7:13) in Daniel’s vision of the fourth Gentile empire ruling over the Jewish people. This last reference is the same one found at the beginning of the Revelation (Rev. 1:7), indicating what is the priority event for the whole prophecy revealed in this book.
We now have the goal of our research of prophecy and the key marker around which everything in our study is linked. But I would be negligent if I didn’t point out what Peter adds in his passage. For the New Testament believer, the understanding of the prophetic word, at its best, can only be an external light/lamp for our walk in this dark world. He goes on to say that Christians are privileged to have available to them something of far more value and light – Jesus Christ as our morning star (Rev. 2:28, 22:16). He is our Christian hope. We constantly look for Him to come for us, and by resurrection or change, to be glorified/conformed into His image. He will then catch us up from this earth to meet Him in the air, and He will take us to our Father’s house in heaven, our eternal abodes where we enjoy the exceeding riches of our Father’s grace and blessings (Eph.2:7). Peter describes this as equivalent to the brightness of the light of the dawn of a new day – far better than carrying a lamp to walk by in darkness. This hope needs to be part of the spiritual education of every true believer – we are individually responsible whether the glorious light of the morning star rises to fill our hearts.
I’ll share one more thing which should help us understand this comparison. Peter’s original audience in all his epistles were Christians among what was called the Jewish Dispersion (1 Pet. 1:1). Peter was never called as the apostle of the uncircumcision/Gentiles – that was Paul. Peter’s writings went to Christians who were previously Jews. The general character of bible prophecy is that it concerns Israel, the earth, and God’s government of the world. The Christian, Christianity, the body of Christ, Christendom as a corporate body, and the Christian dispensation, all were part of the mystery of God kept hidden from the O.T. prophets and their writings. Also hidden was Jesus as the believer’s Morning Star. Is there any wonder why Peter makes such a comparison? God has provided far more light for us than that which is given in the earthly hopes of Israel. The Morning Star speaks of our heavenly hopes, which are far better. (for more details: https://www.reintgenchristianbooks.com/prophetic-symbols-righteousness/ ) Christian, the Lord desires for these truths to rise up in your heart.